Amish farmers in Wisconsin have run up against a legal requirement that they refuse to honor: a 2005 state law that requires all farms to register their livestock herds. An Amish farmer in Clark County is facing a civil court suit because he will not violate his religious beliefs, which he feels would be compromised by the state’s livestock premises registration law.

Emanuel Miller, Jr., a 28 year old pig farmer from Loyal, Wisconsin, has been charged by the Clark County District Attorney for failing to comply with the law, according to a news story last Saturday. He will not register his pigs because, along with other Wisconsin Amish, he believes that the number that would be assigned to his farm by the state Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection would label his property with the mark of the beast, as mentioned in the book of Revelation.

The state contends that livestock herds must be registered so that when disease outbreaks occur, farms can be contacted quickly to contain their spread. When an outbreak of the disease pseudorabies occurred in 2007, the department discovered that 54 farms were unregistered, 44 of which were owned by the Amish. Department resources were strained to ascertain and contact the unregistered farms during that outbreak.

Mr. Miller’s father, Emanuel Miller, Sr., represented 100 Amish farmers in a meeting with department officials in Milwaukee in August. The county district attorney has chosen Mr. Miller’s son as a representative farmer to prosecute because he seems to be familiar with the issues. He will be represented in court by Ken Artis, an attorney who has helped the Amish in a recent building codes case. A meeting on March 20 will schedule a court trial.